For an excellent display of dancing and passion, the sensual, mournful and moving music, “Forever Tango,” now playing at the Shubert Theatre in New York, is the show to see.
The six-week limited engagement, which opened July 24, is a revival of the show’s yearlong run on Broadway in 1997, created and directed by Argentine-born Luis Bravo.
Some of the best dancers from throughout the world of tango are featured in the show, along with a 12-piece orchestra that includes four bandoneonists (the bandoneon is an accordion-like instrument that is sometimes called the “soul” of the music), Victor Lavallen, Santos Maggi, Jorge Trivisonno and Carlos Niesi.
The show is supposed to tell the story of tango, how it was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires, became the craze in Paris in the ’20s and ’30s (the close embrace and sensual walk and interlocking of legs scandalized much of Europe) and debuted in the U.S. in the ’20s with much fanfare, although the dance was sanitized to resemble the formal style of ballroom dancing. However, it was a light treatment in story, but heavy on superb dancing.
The show begins with a large bandoneon left stage, from which a man emerges-the birth of tango-and eventually a woman enters the picture, covered with a transparent scarf. Although the effect of the bandoneon was a bit amateurish and the scarf plain silly, especially when the man pulls the woman offstage as she stands on the scarf (the choreography is billed to the dancers), Sandra Bootz and Gabriel Ortega set the scene for the sensuality of the dance.
What followed was a dazzling variety of tango dancing styles, my favorite being Francisco Mercado and Natalia Hills. This couple burned up the floor, with their excellent timing, connection and form, and, of course, the heat of tango.
In between sets of dancing, the orchestra performed some arrangements that have the familiar steady tango beat known by many from movies past, and others, with superb solos by the lead bandoneonist and violinist, that simply, heart and soul, took me away. Singer Miguel Velazquez serenaded the audience in a smooth, strong voice, and with feeling.
The show was lightened with humor from dancers Marcelo Bernadaz and Veronica Gardella, who parodied the tango of the United States in the ’20s and ’30s in the piece, “La Tablada.”
The most sensuous of dancers were Alejandra Gutty and Juan Paulo Horvath, whose dancing was so in sync, it caused me to hold my breath and then sigh in a release.
The show performed to a sold-out audience, which gave the performers a standing ovation.
“Forever Tango” performs through August 29.